10 Collaborative Learning Examples (2023) (2023)

10 Collaborative Learning Examples (2023) (1)

Collaborative learning occurs when learners work together to achieve an educational objective. This learning approach applies to classroom settings as well as workplace environments and training programs.

Laal and Laal (2012) offer a succinct definition:

“Collaborative learning is an educational approach to teaching and learning that involves groups of learners working together to solve a problem, complete a task, or create a product” (p. 491).

This type of learning is benefits students because it encourages learning from peers, active learning, and the development of soft skills for students such as teamwork and communication skills.

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Collaborative Learning Examples

1. Online Forums

In an era where education increasingly occurs in online environments, teachers have had to come up with ways to encourage online collaboration. This often takes the form of wikis or online forums.

For example, a teacher might ask students to collaborate through a discussion board or live collaboration software (e.g. ‘Blackboard Collaborate’) to share ideas and work together on a shared project.

2. Table Group Work

It’s often easy to see how much a teacher values collaborative learning by looking at the classroom layout.

An educator who wants to encourage collaborative learning would likely place students in table groups where they face one another to encourage conversation and can use the table as a space for sharing group resources, as with this image:

10 Collaborative Learning Examples (2023) (2)

Unfortunately, table groups tend to be phased out as students get older and teachers turn away from collaborative to individual learning.

3. Using Technology in The Classroom

Communication technologies such as Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs) help teachers to implement collaborative learning scenarios.

Educational technologies that support collaboration include interactive whiteboards where students can each go up to the board and contribute their ideas, clickers where students can ‘vote’ on quizzes provided by the teacher, and group wikis where students upload their ideas onto a shared discussion board.

4. Phenomenon-Based Learning

Finland’s Phenomenon Based Learning approach embraces collaboration. In this approach, lessons are often structured around working together to investigate phenomena.

Unlike traditional classrooms, students in phenomenon-based learning classrooms do not learn via subjects (mathematics, literacy, science, history, etc.).

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Instead, lessons are structured around phenomena that should be studied using inquiry-based methods, group work, and collaboration.

5. Project-Based Learning in STEM Classes

STEM programs regularly involve collaborative project-based learning scenarios. This is, partly, because science and technology lends itself very well to experimentation.

There are many ways to conduct a class like this. Usually, the first step is for the students to learn the relevant concepts and principles.

Then they can form small teams of 2-5 and get started. Of course, the instructor will lay out some basic ground rules and provide each team with the exact same type and quantity of materials.

At the end, each group’s bridge will be put the test to see which team constructed the strongest bridge.

6. Problem-Based Learning

Medical schools are the masters of collaborative learning. This makes sense, as doctors often work in teams with other medical professionals such as radiologists, anesthesiologists, and physical therapists to devise treatment regimens for patients.

Medical school students should become well-versed in working collaboratively before practicing as a professional.

Instead of their course instructor describing a condition and then outlining the treatment options, students form teams and work on the problem together.

Each team is presented with a case file of an actual clinical problem. The students read and discuss the facts of the case, which will inevitably reveal gaps in the team’s knowledge base.

The team allocates tasks among the group, and they meet on a regular basis to share notes and engage in thorough discussions. An experienced medical professional serves as a tutor to provide guidance, but very minimal advice.

7. Working in Pairs

Math can be a challenging subject for many students. Instead of a teacher just writing equations on a board for students to sit quietly at their desks and solve, it is much more effective to use problem-based activities.

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In the above video, students are tasked with calculating crop yields on a farm. It’s a concrete problem that younger students can conceptualize more easily than just solving problems.

First, the students work independently, then they form pairs. Students get to select their partner, which adds an interesting learning dynamic that is needed in collaborative learning.

One young student comments that she chooses a partner that is serious about the task, as some of her “closest friends, they talk about other stuff.”

This highlights one of the key benefits to collaborative learning that simply does not exist when working alone.

8. Multiplayer Game-Based Learning (e.g. Minecraft)

Any time a teacher can incorporate technology into instruction, it’s good thing. When they can incorporate a game-based platform like Minecraft, that is a really good thing. As soon as the students hear the words “game” and “Minecraft,” interest will skyrocket.

Teachers in Ireland use an educational edition of Minecraft to engage students in collaborative learning activities. The activities help students develop technological skills while at the same time learning about history.

Some of the activities allow students to design and build their own ships and settlements. They can also engage in archeological reconstructions or create storyboards for their own digital Viking sagas.

Watch the above video to see how excited the students get and how pleased the teachers and principal are at the program’s effectiveness.

9. Service Learning Projects

Service learning projects are projects where students go out into their communities and work on projects to help support and improve their communities.

For example, students in an Environmental Sciences course might form small groups and work in the community to set up Urban Farming projects.

Like stem projects, service learning lends itself well to collaboration because it often takes many people to come together to get community projects completed!

10. Inter-Agency Work

Collaborative learning also regularly occurs during inter-agency and multidisciplinary work in the workforce.

For example, in the case of a complex medical condition, doctors of various specialties, as well as nurses and mental health professionals may come together to collaborate on a potential solution for their patient.

This sort of inter-agency workplace collaboration is increasingly common and explains why teachers strongly encourage groupwork in schools.

Collaborative Learning Benefits

There are numerous advantages of collaborative learning, including:

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  • Communication Skills: students express their views and discuss ideas regarding tasks, timelines, and objectives. This enhances their listening and communication skills.
  • Conflict Resolution Skills: when students encounter conflicts and differences in opinions, they learn how to handle those disagreements in a constructive manner.
  • Leadership Skills: working in groups presents leadership opportunities. Students will learn to allocate tasks and resources and develop other project management skills.
  • Deep Learning: because collaborative learning increases student engagement, educational material is processed at a much deeper level than working alone or in a teacher-centered environment.
  • Independence: students develop self-discipline and learn that they are responsible for learning outcomes.
  • Teamwork: students learn the value of working with others and the importance of being cooperative and flexible.

Collaborative Learning Weaknesses

  • Introverts Struggle: Introverted students often prefer to pause, carefully reflect and internally process information. These students may struggle in a social situation where they have to speak up and be vulnerable.
  • Group Work Skills Training Required: Students cannot simply be thrown into groups and expected to work well together. Teachers need to teach positive interdependence, how to deal with people with different learning styles, and how to be inclusive of all voices.
  • Assessment Inequities: Assessment is always difficult with group work. Some students may believe others have been lazy or undeserving of the group’s high grade, while at other times students feel that others in the group are bringing their grades down.

Collaboration Vs. Cooperation

Collaborative learning and cooperative learning are often used interchangeably, but there are some small differences between the two.

According to Barkley, Cross & Major (2014) the key distinction is that cooperative tasks are more structured and collaborative tasks are less structured. They state:

“Collaborative and cooperative learning [are] positioned on a continuum from most structured (cooperative) to least structured (collaborative)” (pp. 5 – 6).

So, we can distinguish them something like this:

  • Cooperative learning: Structured learning situations where there is a clear and distinct task. Group roles and procedures are often set out in advance.
  • Collaborative learning: Unstructured learning situations where learners work together to learn, create, and develop new knowledge or products. Procedures and group roles are negotiated in the process.

For most people, this difference is evident but not necessarily impactful, and the two terms continue to be used interchangeably.


Collaborative learning places students in groups so they can work together on various educational activities.

Those activities can include using software to design Viking ships and create stories, or solve mathematical equations to estimate crop yields for a hypothetical farm.

There are many benefits to collaborative learning because students must get along, work towards a common goal, and share responsibility for their own development.

Other benefits include understanding leadership and building basic skills related to project management, such as allocating tasks and resources, and being self-disciplined.


Arvaja, M., & Häkkinen, P. (2010). Social aspects of collaborative learning. In P. Peterson, E. Baker, & B. McGaw (Eds.), International Encyclopedia of Education (3rd ed.). (pp. 685-690). Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-08-044894-7.00624-2

Laal, M., & Laal, M. (2012). Collaborative learning: What is it? Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 31, 491-495. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.12.092

Nilson, L. B. (2010).Teaching at its best: A research-based resource for college instructors(2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 

Lyman, F. (1981). The responsive classroom discussion: The inclusion of all students. In A. Anderson (Ed.), Mainstreaming digest (pp. 109-113). University of Maryland College of Education.

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Dave Cornell (PhD)

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Dr. Cornell has worked in education for more than 20 years. His work has involved designing teacher certification for Trinity College in London and in-service training for state governments in the United States. He has trained kindergarten teachers in 8 countries and helped businessmen and women open baby centers and kindergartens in 3 countries.

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10 Collaborative Learning Examples (2023) (4)

Chris Drew (PhD)

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This article was peer-reviewed and edited by Chris Drew (PhD). The review process on Helpful Professor involves having a PhD level expert fact check, edit, and contribute to articles. Reviewers ensure all content reflects expert academic consensus and is backed up with reference to academic studies. Dr. Drew has published over 20 academic articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education and holds a PhD in Education from ACU.

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What are examples of collaborative learning? ›

The following examples are among the most well-known types of collaborative learning:
  • Think-pair-share: Give students a discussion prompt, question, short problem, or issue to consider. ...
  • ​​​​​​​Problem-based learning (or PBL) ...
  • Guided Design. ...
  • Case Studies. ...
  • Simulations. ...
  • Peer Teaching. ...
  • Small group discussion. ...
  • Peer Editing.

What are the 5 types of collaborative teaching? ›

They include: one teach, one support; parallel teaching; alternative teaching; station teaching; and team teaching.

What are the 5 benefits of collaborative learning? ›

Below are just five of the many benefits of collaborative learning for students.
  • Leadership and Self-Management Skills.
  • Wider Range of Knowledge and Skill Acquisition.
  • Improved Student Relationships.
  • Better Concept Retention.
  • Promotes Active Listening and Critical Thinking.
  • Establish group goals and values.
Dec 3, 2020

What are the 4 types of collaboration? ›

As follows is a brief description of the four main types of collaboration known to us today (Alliances, Portfolios, Innovation Networks, and Ecosystems), and the importance of each.

Which is the best example of collaboration? ›

Some applicable examples of collaboration in the workplace include brainstorming, group discussions, reaching a consensus about processes or analyzing problems, and finding solutions.

What are the 7 keys of collaboration? ›

Seven Keys to Creative Collaboration
  • It's voluntary. Forced collaboration isn't collaboration. ...
  • People are dependable. ...
  • There's trust and vulnerability. ...
  • The structure is loose . . . but there is a structure. ...
  • We share a vision. ...
  • The ability to goof around. ...
  • We embrace candor and conflict.
Jun 20, 2016

What are the 3 important skills in collaboration? ›

Ok, so what are 3 important skills for teamwork and collaboration?
  • Communication. Intuitively, it makes sense that strong communication skills support a culture of collaboration at work. ...
  • Respect for diversity. ...
  • Trust.

What is a positive impact of collaborative learning? ›

The benefits of collaborative learning include: Development of higher-level thinking, oral communication, self-management, and leadership skills. Promotion of student-faculty interaction. Increase in student retention, self-esteem, and responsibility.

Why is it important for students to collaborate? ›

Collaborative learning has been shown to not only develop higher-level thinking skills in students, but boost their confidence and self-esteem as well. Group projects can maximize educational experience by demonstrating the material, while improving social and interpersonal skills.

What are collaborative learning skills? ›

What is it? A collaborative (or cooperative) learning approach involves pupils working together on activities or learning tasks in a group small enough to ensure that everyone participates. Pupils in the group may work on separate tasks contributing to a common overall outcome, or work together on a shared task.

What is an example of collaborative approach in teaching? ›


Students turn to a partner (or small groups) and share their responses. Take this a step further by asking students to find someone who arrived at an answer different from their own and convince their partner to change their mind.

What are collaborative learning methods? ›

What is it? A collaborative (or cooperative) learning approach involves pupils working together on activities or learning tasks in a group small enough to ensure that everyone participates. Pupils in the group may work on separate tasks contributing to a common overall outcome, or work together on a shared task.

What are the three 3 different types of collaborative technologies? ›

  • Real-time/ Synchronous: This allows for real-time communication and collaboration between users. ...
  • Asynchronous: This is a team collaboration software that allow workers to work together, however at different times.
  • Collocated: This collaborative process enables users to perform tasks together in one place.


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